The Football and Society Podcast

The sound of silence: How Chile's football authorities are trying to marginalise vocal fans

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Episode notes

Matchday atmospheres are often the subject of taunts from rival fans, as supporters of Manchester City and Arsenal will know; a lack of chanting and other expressions of support is associated with a lack of passion and enthusiasm for the game, at odds with English football’s world-renowned reputation for vibrant atmospheres. 

A recent study examined a perceived deficit in vocal support among supporters of the Chilean national team, an issue that has drawn criticism from players and fans alike. 

Luis Achondo, in an article published in Soccer and Society, looked at the controversy surrounding recent fixtures including Chile’s games at the 2015 Copa America, which Chile hosted. Fans were criticised by players for the lack of vocal support, with Alexis Sánchez complaining: ‘it seems that we’re not playing in Chile’. Luis highlights how hinchas - a term denoting the fanatical supporters who ‘foster community bonds, denounce their deprived social conditions, and accrue honour and prestige’ through ‘drumming, whistling, launching pyrotechnics, and vocalizing chants’ - are few in attendance at national team matches.

 These supporters, he argues, have been priced and bullied out of the game deliberately by the authorities and police, who view the hinchas as unwelcome deviants bringing the game into disrepute. This represents ‘the silencing and exclusion of those who are incompatible with the silent modes of citizenship and consumption favoured by the Chilean neoliberal model’, since the ‘ideal liberal democratic subject has been understood as a citizen who not only engages in quiet modes of democratic citizenship but also in silent modes of consumption’.

Today we explore:

  • How are Chile's football authorities trying to change fan culture in the country?
  • What parallels might there be with the Premier League?
  • Are the changes in football fandom in Chile being reflected in changing demographics among the players on the pitch?

...all this and more in our latest episode


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